I was asked to give a talk recently on forgiveness. There was nothing new or special about it, as I have taught on the spiritual necessity of forgiveness many times!
However, this time, as I was deep in preparations, I recognized that quiet convicting voice of the Holy Spirit reminding me to practice what I preach. In prayer I realized that I possessed a growing list of people that had brought disappointment, anger, and hurt to my life. While I was not surprised by the list or the need, I was shocked that I had allowed this list to grow over months without realizing it. Time just seemed to slip by, and issues were going unaddressed in my heart.
Forgetting to Forgive
When I considered why I had not already forgiven these offenses, I realized it was because I had been so busy and so consumed with life. Keeping up with three kids, trying to support a busy wife, fulfilling responsibilities of pastoral work, and navigating the Carr Fire crisis kept me running from one event to the next. The danger was that I was not current with the state of my heart. I had let business and crisis consume my life in such a way that I was unaware of the need for some housecleaning in my heart and soul.
How could I forget to forgive? I have followed Jesus for a good 40 years! Forgiveness is the heartbeat of my faith and something that I preach, teach, and demand of others. Yet in the craziness of daily life I had allowed weeks – maybe months – to pass by holding onto offense and hurt.
Pastoral work will certainly give you plenty of experience in the work of forgiving. People will disappoint, you will be ignored, and you will be judged. And I believe one of the greatest dangers in pastoral work is demands on time and energy. It’s very easy to forget to slow down and take an inventory of our hearts. We can get so swept up in the “have to” and the “should do” that we forget what we must do: stay current with the affairs of our heart.
We must take inventory of our hearts
One of the great tools for forgiveness that I remember being taught by great mentors is that we are called to “stay current” with forgiveness. Indeed, it’s our grave responsibility to keep inventory on our hearts so that we don’t get cluttered with issues of un-forgiveness.
Keeping current with our hearts is one thing that should be on the top of our priority list. When we don’t make this crucial choice, we can easily find ourselves deep in emotional turmoil because we have neglected to use the powerful gift of forgiveness that Jesus gave us.
I’m confident that you can relate to my experience...you don’t need a guide on how to forgive or a cheerleader to motivate you to DO the hard work of forgiveness. But maybe today you could use a little reminder that even though we are leaders and pioneers in faith we cannot afford to let forgiveness get dusty on the shelf of our hearts. We must choose to take regular inventory of our hearts and make sure that we are walking in the great grace of Jesus.
Take the time to look around in the rooms of your heart and see what is hiding under the demands and business. Utilize the power of the blood of Jesus. Choose to do the hard work and forgive!
I am praying for you today…that you find the comfort and life in a clean heart. Praying that the Holy Spirit will show you anything that you have not faced and that any issue unresolved in your heart is revealed. May you be able to lead authentically and love unrestrained under the power of forgiveness!